Skip to main content
Bridge Michigan
Michigan’s nonpartisan, nonprofit news source

Opinion | Michigan superintendent makes proposals to prevent school shootings

As a school district leader in Michigan, I feel deeply saddened and angry every time a horrible act of mindless terror is perpetrated on yet another school and community.

Lou Steigerwald
Lou Steigerwald is superintendent of Norway-Vulcan Area Schools in the Upper Peninsula.

I know that every time one of these awful things happen, there will be much talk about doing something, the school will get blamed, and then nothing will change. 

It is clear by now that Congress will get nothing done. Children have been murdered, again, and nothing will get done. 

Here is my hope for Michigan and our leaders in Lansing: Seeing as we cannot pass even the simplest of gun safety laws, our alternative is to make schools much harder targets than they currently are. With Michigan sitting on billions of dollars in funds they did not count on, now is the time to take action.

Having worked with law enforcement regarding schools and security, I know schools are very difficult to secure. One officer shared that schools are security "nightmares" due to the number of doors and windows we typically have. Assuming there will be no change in gun laws, here are things that can be done: 

  • All schools need to become single-point entry. The entry needs to be manned and needs to have a metal detector. This will require at least two security guards at the entry since one will be busy monitoring the detector and one will search any suspicious containers and person. 
  • All doors and windows need to be alarmed and all staff need to be directed that the only reason to open either will be an actual emergency or a drill. All windows need to be covered with a bullet-resistant membrane. 
  • Because windows and doors will remain shut, all school buildings need to be air conditioned.  
  • Security must be present for all school events and the single-point entry system must be maintained.  Bad people look for opportunities.  Indoor sporting events often feature relaxed security measures and could allow evil people to booby trap a building for the next school day. 

All this will be extraordinarily expensive. The Michigan Legislature should develop a per-pupil formula using the unexpected available dollars and distribute those dollars to schools to help with the cost of the improvements. Individual districts will need to hold bond elections to round out funds not covered by the grant.  

The Legislature and governor should also pass a measure allowing districts to levy a millage to add security and mental health personnel. The security improvements need to be mandatory for all schools. No child should be less safe than any other due to the unwillingness of voters to foot the bill for what will be needed.  

We cannot continue to have Oxfords and Uvaldes every year. Our alternatives are either to change the ease of obtaining guns or harden the security of school buildings, or both.  

When neither of these things happen we all share the blame for not doing all we can to keep children safe at school. 

Bridge welcomes guest columns from a diverse range of people on issues relating to Michigan and its future. The views and assertions of these writers do not necessarily reflect those of Bridge or The Center for Michigan. Bridge does not endorse any individual guest commentary submission. If you are interested in submitting a guest commentary, please contact Ron French. Click here for details and submission guidelines.

We're not just a news organization, we're also your neighbors

We’ve been there for you with daily Michigan COVID-19 news; reporting on the emergence of the virus, daily numbers with our tracker and dashboard, exploding unemployment, and we finally were able to report on mass vaccine distribution. We report because the news impacts all of us. Will you please support our nonprofit newsroom?

Pay with VISA Pay with MasterCard Pay with American Express Pay with PayPal Donate Now